Thursday 25 November 2021
A shipment of 250 straws of Margarita Sebastian, bred by the Hodson-Walker family, Derbyshire has been exported to the USA and received by a group of four American breeders who collectively run 600 cows. In addition, 200 straws of Margarita Sensation were purchased by one of these breeders.
This importation will be used across four different US states, including North Dakota, Kansas, Missouri and Montana, which all have very diverse climate and forage types, ranging from abundant low-nutrient grazeable forages to areas of sparse amounts of nutrient dense forages.
This is the first shipment of UK Hereford semen to the USA for the first time since 2008, when 300 straws of Atok Socrates were exported.
One of the purchasers, Steven Pollestad, North Dakota, said: “All of us involved with the importation were interested particularly in Traditional Hereford bloodlines because of their ability to convert forages more efficiently.
“This efficiency results in more pounds of beef produced per acre or hectare of pasture without resorting to the added expense of using creep feed, or other grains to increase cattle weights while they are on pasture. Drought conditions, such as what we now have here in much of the US, make efficiency traits even more important.”
Roger Hodson-Walker and his family keep 20 females in their Derbyshire-based Margarita herd and explained representatives from the group visited the UK to look at Traditional cows.
The Americans jointly funded a synchronisation programme, with Free Town Kendal as the chosen sire, to produce bull calves for semen collection for export. Kendal was purchased by EL Lewis and son, Dilwyn, Herefordshire in 1976 and sold for a then record price of 17,000gns.
Roger said: “The purchasers were looking for animals to out-winter on the range and to perform on a forage-based diet, and they believed the Traditional Hereford was particularly well placed for this task.
“The Americans travelled across the country looking at Traditional females to breed bulls from for semen collection and settled on five from our herd which had been among our original animals when establishing the herd.”
A group of females from the Margarita herd were chosen for synchronisation including purchases from Peter Talbot’s Baytal herd and Les Cook’s Albany herd which were the eventual dams of the bulls.
Roger explained the purchasers were particularly helpful in ensuring the right procedures were undertaken. To export to America, semen must be free of Schmallenberg, and as such, the timing of semen collection was vital.
From this mating, three bull calves were produced. Photographs were sent to the American breeders throughout their development, and the group of breeders chose two bulls. Semen was collected in the winter of 2020, before any challenge from midges.
Steven said: “My colleagues and I are excited about our recent importation of Traditional Hereford semen from the Hodson Walker family, and we are looking forward to seeing the results of the use of these genetics blended with our own Hereford bloodlines.
“I am very pleased to have been able to locate and obtain Traditional Hereford genetics which are essentially the foundation genetics of the Hereford breed.”
The semen is also on sale in the UK via UK Sire Services.